Rutgers Football Predictions 2020
Written by: Ben Pekay
Sept. 5 Monmouth- Win
Sept. 12 Syracuse-Loss
Sept. 19 @ Temple-Loss
Sept. 26 @ Ohio State-Loss
Oct. 3 Illinois- Loss
Oct. 10 @ Purdue-Loss
Oct. 17 Indiana-Loss
Oct. 24 Nebraska-Loss
Oct. 31 @ Maryland- Loss
Nov. 14 Michigan- Loss
Nov. 21 @ Michigan State-Loss
Nov. 28 Penn State- Loss
The 2020 Rutgers football season is going to be the same old Rutgers. There's a reason in all of my other season predictions when I talk about Rutgers, I say, “Well everyone knows about Rutgers.” Rutgers for the past few years has been historically bad. Since 2015, they have gone a combined 13-47. Instead of looking at the past, let's look at the present. During the offseason, Rutgers hired Greg Schiano as the head football coach. He coached Rutgers from 2001-2011 and led them to 6 bowl games. He definitely will need lots of time to rebuild this team. The offense has a new offensive coordinator, named Sean Gleeson. He is the 12th different offensive coordinator in as many seasons. Rutgers has no great option at quarterback this season. Art Sitkowski who was a red-shirt last year will probably get the start this year. To be successful, Sitkowski needs a better offensive line and he needs to get the ball out of his hands faster. The other options for Rutgers are Johnny Langan or Noah Vedral. Langan is a strong runner but is not great at throwing the ball. Verdal transferred from Nebraska and is immediately eligible. Vedral started his career at UCF where he threw for 276 yards and 1 touchdown in six games. He only had two starts at Nebraska and had one comeback win over Northwestern. Vedral will compete with Sitkowski for the starting role. Rutgers has very little around their quarterbacks. Their wide receivers only had 5 touchdowns through the air last year. Bo Melton is their best wide receiver with only 2 touchdowns last year and had a total of 427 yards. Rutgers will rely on the running game with Isaih Pacheco who had 7 touchdowns last year and 729 yards. Rutgers offensive line is only returning 1 starter. Opposing defensive players will be rushing to see who can get to the quarterback first. On the defensive end, Rutgers is not any better. Rutgers was not able to get any pressure on the quarterback last year. This will continue into this year. Rutgers has no great players on defense and will struggle throughout this year especially in the passing game. One bright spot for Rutgers is their punter, Adam Korsak, who was second-team Big Ten last year. He will be used a lot this year.
Rutgers begins the season with FCS Monmouth. They went 11-3 last year and won the Big South. I think Rutgers will win this game because of the little talent they have on their team and the okay play of their offense. This game will be relatively close and could come down to a final play or drive. Next up for Rutgers is Syracuse. Syracuse is returning Quarterback Tommy DeVito who threw for 2,360 yards and 19 touchdowns last year. They are also returning four of their offensive lineman. Syracuse was second-to-last in total defense last year. Syracuse’s best player on defense is Andre Cisco who had 65 tackles last year and 5 interceptions. Syracuse will beat Rutgers because of the strong play of their offense and the weakness of Rutgers’ defense. Next up for Rutgers is Temple. Temple returns Anthony Russo who threw for 2,991 yards and 12 touchdowns last year. Temple also has a strong receiving group led by Junior Jaden Blue who caught 4 touchdowns and 1,046 yards last year. On the defensive end, Rutgers returns Ifeanyi Maijeh who was first-team All-ACC last year. Temple will beat Rutgers because of the talent on their team and the strength of their defense.
Next up for Rutgers is Ohio State. Ohio State is loaded this year. They return preseason Heisman candidate Quarterback Justin Fields who threw for 3,273 yards with 41 touchdowns. They also return Chris Olave who caught 12 touchdowns last year and had 848 total yards. Although they lost Chase Young and Jeff Okudah to the NFL, the Ohio State defense is still very talented. They return Cornerback Shaun Wade who had 25 tackles last year and 8 pass deflections. This game is a blowout. The real question is by how much would the Ohio State backups beat Rutgers? After Ohio State, Rutgers plays Illinois. Illinois should be improved this year. They return starting quarterback, Brandon Peters, who threw for 1,884 yards and 18 touchdowns. They also return their best wide receiver, Josh Imatorbhebhe, who caught 9 touchdowns and had a total of 634 yards last year. The Illinois defense will also be solid this year. They return Jake Hansen who had 72 tackles and 7 forced fumbles last year. This game will begin close for the first quarter but eventually the Illini will get a large lead and blow them out because of the strong play of Brandon Peters. After Illinois, Rutgers has Purdue. Purdue has a lot of talent on offense including Rondale Moore who was an All-American wide receiver and David Bell who was the 2019 Big Ten Freshman of the year. Purdue will expose Rutgers’ defense and blow them out.
Then, Rutgers has Indiana. Indiana is returning eight of its starters on offense. Michael Penix Jr. is the starting quarterback for Indiana who threw 1,394 yards last year and 10 touchdowns. He will be much improved and be a challenge for any team. Indiana also returns Micah McFadden who had 60 tackles last year. This game will be a blowout and Indiana will dominate throughout the whole game. Next, Rutgers has Nebraska. Nebraska returns Adrian Martinez who threw 9 interceptions and 10 touchdowns last year. They return Wide Receiver JD Speilman who had 898 yards and 5 touchdowns last year. The Nebraska defense will be okay, but not great. This game will be another blowout with Nebraska having their way on offense. Next up is Rutgers' closest game of the year. They have an away game at Maryland. Maryland’s starting quarterback will probably be Josh Jackson who threw for 1,274 yards and 12 touchdowns last year. The starting quarterback could also be Taulia Tagovailoa who transferred from Alabama. They have few weapons for Jackson or Tagovailoa to use on offense. The best player on the defensive end is Ayinde Eley. He won All-Big Ten honors last year and had 79 tackles. This game will be very close but towards the end of the game, Maryland will have a lead and will be able to extend it. This game will be a disappointment for Rutgers.
After Maryland, Rutgers has a home game against Michigan. As you probably have assumed at this point, this game will be a blowout. Michigan’s starting quarterback will be Dylan McCaffrey who is very effective with his legs. Michigan returns Nico Collins and Zach Charbonnet who had big roles on the offense last year. The Michigan defense will also be pretty solid. They will beat Rutgers because of their talent. Next up for Rutgers is Michigan State. This is a rebuilding year for Michigan State whose head coach, Mel Tucker is replacing Mark Dantonio. Michigan State’s quarterback will be Rocky Lombardi who was Brian Lewerke’s backup last year. Michigan State’s defense will struggle because of their inexperience. This could be a trap game for Michigan State especially if they are struggling, but Michigan State will win this game. Finally, Rutgers has Penn State. This Penn State team is one of the best they have ever had. They return Sean Clifford who had a good year last year and will only get better. Penn State also returns Tight End Pat Friermuth who had 507 yards and 7 touchdowns last year. They are also loaded on defense. They return one of the best linebackers in the country, Micah Parsons who had 109 tackles and 5 sacks last year. This Penn State team will blow out Rutgers because of the talent on their team.
Well, another disappointing season for Rutgers. Although Rutgers will go 1-11 this year, they should have hope for the future. Greg Schiano is a good coach but he needs time to recruit his players and eventually turn around the program. Currently Rutgers has the number 17 recruiting ranking in the country for 2021 but it is still early in the recruiting process. In the next few years, Greg Schiano should look for the signature win that he will build the program around.